A W F Projects   |   Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinn - M.Sc. Sebastian Schnell
Strengthening Rural Institutions to Support Livelihood Security for Smallholders Involved in Industrial Tree-planting Programs in Vietnam and Indonesia


In recent years, governments across Southeast Asia have prioritized the development of increasingly large areas of industrial tree plantations. This emphasis has been driven by the region's rapidly growing demand for timber and industrial wood fiber, particularly from China. This growing demand could accelerate considerably over the medium term in response to the region's expanding market for biofuels and a planned new wave of pulp mill capacity expansions.

Two of the region's most ambitious tree-planting programs are currently underway in Vietnam and Indonesia. Initiated in 1998, Vietnam's "Five Million Hectare Reforestation Program" aims to increase the nation's forest cover to 43% by 2010. Two million hectares are targeted to supply raw materials for pulp mills and other wood processing industries. Large numbers of farmers are now engaged in tree-planting shemes, partially funded by KfW, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. The Indonesian government now seeks to establish 9 million hectares (ha) of new industrial tree plantations by 2016, in addition to 9.8 million ha already allocated for this. Sixty percent of the new area are scheduled for conversion is to be planted by smallholders. It is expected that some 360,000 rural households will be directly involved in developing plots of 15 ha each, with several hundred thousand more providing wage labour for forestry compoanies.

In both countries, governments are promoting smallholder plantation development as a strategy for alleviating rural poverty. If well implemented, such programs could provide income opportunities for large numbers of rural households, while also increasing (or restoring) the productivity of degraded lands and developing sustainable raw material supplies for wood processing industries. On the other side, such programs can also increase inequality, making conditions worse for the very poor; marginalised groups, and women.

Past experience with smallholder tree-planting programs in Indonesia, Vietnam, and other countries suggests that such initiatives carry considerable risks. In many areas, they have led to the displacement of communities with customary tenure rights; loss of newly allocated land rights through land lease markets; as well as marginilization of rural poor who depend on access to common property resources. Also, inequitable power relations and poorly governed rural institutions have frequently resulted in disproportionate benefits from tree planting schemes flowing to large-scale corporate actors and/or local elites. Further on, rural smallholders have limited technical information about the most appropriate tree species to plant on sites they manage and the types of silvicultural practices that will generate optimal yields. Their acces to markets is often limited by the dispersed nature of their operations, and the general abscence of economies of scale and lack of coordination to gain market access.

 Objectives This study is part of an interdisciplinary research project which aims to advance livelihood security and sustainable reduction of poverty amog rural smallholders involved in industrial tree-planting programs in Southeast Asia. Our activities within this project are the collection of growth and yield data on a range of species in different sites with varying ages and management practices. The collected data will be inserted into SILVIA - a geo-referenced forest management software - which allows the simulation of production scenarios at the farm level. The result of these simulations and a literature review on growth, yield and management aspects of the selected tree species will be the basis for silvicultural guidelines to improve the natural outcomes of the farmers plantations.

A further activity is the training of farmers and local forest managers in forest inventory techniques, data and forest management and in the use of SILVIA as a decision support system.

Another activity will be the establishment of an forest inventory system based on permanent sample plots which allows the surveying of the given forest development goals; and of course also delivers precise yield and growth data.

In Vietnam the study focuses on two communes in the north-west of Hanoi (Tram Than and Ca Dinh in Phu Tho province) and two communes in the lower middle near Quy Nonh (Cat Lam and Canh Hien in Binh Dinh province). The areal extent of one commune is more or less 50 km².

 Working Plan
10/08 – 12/08: Field plot observations of smallholders plantations in test sites of Vietnam
11/08 – 12/08: Collect data on growth, yield and silvicultural aspects of selected tree species based on literature review
January 2009: Testing and validation of models and management scenarios with field data - Implementation to SILVIA
Develop a geo-referenced data base on the forest management data (map)
02/09 – 05/09: Write silvicultural guidelines
04/09 – 05/09: Produce material for SILVIA and inventory workshop
June 2009: Workshop with partners and selected stakeholders on Silvia, Inventory techniques, and permanent plot establishment
Summer 2009: Establish permanent plots


Field manual compiled in September 2009.




Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia - Coordination

Center for Tropical and Suptropical Agriculture and Forestry (CeTSAF),
Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany

Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV), Hanoi, Vietnam

Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB), Indonesia


Prof. Dr. Christoph Kleinn
Abteilung für Waldinventur und Fernerkundung
Büsgenweg 5
37077 Göttingen
Tel. +49 551 39 3472

 Participating Scientists

MSc. Sebastian Schnell
Abteilung für Waldinventur und Fernerkundung
Büsgenweg 5
37077 Göttingen
Tel. +49 551 39 3474

PhD-student Chaw Chaw Sein

MSc-student Nguyen Tron Hung


BMZ (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung)

 Time Frame

September 2008 – Summer 2009